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Will Ferrell Reveals Why He Left ‘Saturday Night Live’ Behind

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by James Manning/PA Images via Getty Images)

Will Ferrell has put together quite a resume of characters from his time on Saturday Night Live, but even he knew he had to leave. At some point, you have to either commit to staying with the show for a long, long time. On the other hand, if you have worked up enough as an actor and comedian, offers could be flowing your way. Ferrell admits in this interview that there weren’t a lot of deals coming his way. While he would leave, there are times that he would return to guest host SNL and make new memories.

What led to his departure from the famed NBC show? “I was creeping up on my seventh season, and it was just feeling like, for better or for worse, a good time to go,” Ferrell told The Wall Street Journal. “It was a mix of scary and ‘No, this is the right time.’ I don’t know why. Because there really wasn’t a pile of scripts waiting for me. It was more like, ‘I’m doing well from the show. I’m pretty well-known. Let’s use this momentum to try.’ I had Old School. And then we had this script that was a great concept but needed some work about a grown man at the North Pole who thought he was an elf. So I packed up. ‘I’m leaving the show. Let’s see what happens.'”

Will Ferrell Turned Down Chance To Do Sequel For ‘Elf’

Ferrell even reflected back on the final conversation he had as a cast member with Saturday Night Live creator and producer Lorne Michaels. In comments made to the WSJ, Ferrell said that you sit down with Michaels at your last show. According to Ferrell, Michaels said, “I have to say, I have to put you in the top three of anyone ever having done the show. Where in that top three-I can’t tell you.” Ferrell said this was an absolutely amazing compliment along with some instability to it. Ferrell also goes on to say that his response was, in essence, that’s great but where did I place in those top three?

Speaking indirectly a little bit about Elf, did you know that Ferrell turned down the opportunity to do a sequel to the very popular Christmas movie? Why in the world would he choose not to do it? There’s a pretty good reason in Ferrell’s mind. “I would have had to promote the movie from an honest place, which would’ve been, like, ‘Oh no, it’s not good. I just couldn’t turn down that much money,'” Ferrell said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “And I thought, ‘Can I actually say those words? I don’t think I can, so I guess I can’t do the movie.'”